EPA Review claims SO2, NOx standards not strict enough

A recent NY Times article details how EPA reviews of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for airborne SO2 — 53 parts per billion averaged over a year — and NOX — 500 parts per billion averaged over three hours — are “not strict enough to prevent damage to the environment” and that new, even more strict rules may be forthcoming.

EPA is undergoing a review of the secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for both SO2 and NOx. The welfare-based rules, distinct from the health-based limits on emissions that cause health problems such as asthma, are intended to prevent air pollution that harms the soil, water, crops, vegetation, man-made materials, animals, wildlife, weather, visibility and climate.

And according to a draft analysis of recommendations from scientists, the current standards have failed to prevent those types of impacts. Nearly the entire country has achieved attainment with the standards, which have not been changed since they were established in 1971, but emissions continue to harm wildlife

The report suggests that the current limits on emissions of SO2 and NOX limits should revisited, made stricter. and based on how they affect bodies of water. EPA plans are apparently to release proposed rules in July 2011.

The draft policy assessment is available for download from the EPA website.

21. September 2010 by Jason Hayes
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